Short-term Credentials, Short-term Training

Last Updated: Spring 2023

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Short-term credential programs typically run from 8-15 weeks at a postsecondary education institution, and are less than one year of full-time study. Short-term credentials may include licenses issued by state or federal governments, certificates awarded by postsecondary institutions, and certifications awarded by industry organizations. These short-term credentials are earned after short-term training, and can be stackable. They take less time and generally less money to complete and maintain. Worker learners can access federal student loans under the Higher Education Act.

Short-term credential programs are contested in the ecosystem, and while they have garnered plenty of attention over the past five years, some argue this area is under-analyzed and under-studied. Earners of short-term credentials may usually report high completion and job placement rates, but their wages post-completion are not high. Job placement rates are usually self-reported. One of the main requirements of participation in federal loan programs is the 70-70 rule, which requires that self-reported completion and job placement rates are at least 70% each. Short-term credentials have been on the rise since 2015. Corporate and industry partnerships have encouraged this growth. Tech companies like Google have introduced short-term programs for various job positions to allow workers to earn specific credentials for specific tasks. Other short-term programs include licensing such as Commercial Drivers Licenses.

  • Georgetown University CEW: Short-term programs typically run from 8-15 weeks at a postsecondary education institution.
  • New America (2021): Short-term credentials are less than one year of full-time study. Short-term credentials may include licenses issued by state or federal governments, certificates awarded by postsecondary institutions, and certifications awarded by industry organizations.

Ecosystem Relationship

Short-term credentials and short-term training are tools in the ecosystem to give workers credentials they can use to transition, obtain, or move up jobs. They can be an important part of a worker learners career education pathway.

Types/Examples

  • Short-term credentials for jobs at Amazon and Google
  • In Certificates: Gateway to Gainful Employment and College Degrees, The Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce analyzed earnings by field of study, sex, race/ethnicity, and program length. One of the most important factors that affects earnings is whether certificate holders work in the same occupational field they studied.The report also looked at demographic characteristics of certificate holders: sex, race/ethnicity, age, educational attainment, academic preparation/skill, family income, and parents’ education. The report also analyzed the institutions that most commonly award certificates – such as community colleges and for-profit institutions – and the states where certificates are most prevalent and provide the highest earnings returns.
  • Examples of short-term career training programs marketed on the Internet that can often be completed in 3 to 6 months:  Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs); Commercial Drivers; Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs); Hair Stylists; Massage Therapists; Personal Trainers; Physical Therapy Aides; Wind Turbine Technicians; Apprentice programs; Sales Trainees; Automotive specialist; Electrician.

Alternative Terminology

  • Credentials
  • Stackable Credentials

See Also

  • Short-term Pell: Kaine/Portman Short-Term Pell Amendment to S.1260 would extend Pell Grant eligibility to students in qualifying short-term workforce education programs. The amendment is similar in structure to the Jumpstart our Businesses by Supporting Students (JOBS) Act. Like the JOBS act, the amendment would authorize a job training federal Pell Grant program to extend Pell eligibility to credit and non-credit programs between 150 and 600 clock hours in length. Pell Grant eligibility is currently limited to programs 600 hours or longer. The Dept. of Education (ED) would have one year from enactment to publish an eligibility application for short-term programs.
  • Stackable Credentials: Stacking credentials is part of a sequence of credentials that can be accumulated over time to build up an individual’s qualifications and help them to move along a career pathway or up a career ladder to different and potentially higher-paying jobs. Stackable credentials can be viewed as building blocks where each short-term credential that a person earns builds into a higher-level credential.

References

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